When he won Dancing with the Stars I asked Manu Feildel to tell me about his upcoming series Dinner Date, but the answer I got was so devoid of detail I couldn’t make anything of the quotes.
Now having seen the first episode I understand why.
He’s barely in this thing.
It’s painfully obvious from watching the show that the My Kitchen Rules host has been brought in at the end of the production to simply add a little ‘je ne sais quoi’ to this new dating series. At no point does he even meet the participants, let alone attempt to play Cupid (as Publicity notes suggested).
Produced by Quail TV (Find My Family, Send in the Dogs Australia), this is based on a UK format. Singles looking for love are given the chance to have a blind date with three prospective partners who all whip up a dish in their kitchen. Over a home-cooked meal the two will get to know one another, with one eventually selected for a later overnight romance.
Feildel’s opening repartee is a brief as it gets: “Can you win someone’s heart by cooking them a wonderful meal? I think you can. I’m Manu Feildel and this is Dinner Date where one beautiful woman goes on 3 blind dates. Will she find love at the dinner table? Let’s see.”
And with that a narrator takes over as we meet freelance PR consultant and single mum, Simone, 32.
As with Come Dine With Me and My Kitchen Rules the first take is to surmise the menu and make value judgements about the chef behind it. Without Feildel on hand Simone even does a bit of the storytelling herself.
“Oh my goodness. I’ve got five menus in front of me. I have to choose three,” she explains. “Here goes nothing.”
The first dinner is cooked by carpenter Nick, 35, who doesn’t say a lot about his last relationship and isn’t too keen on kids. Bow bow. A lot is made of first impressions, physical appearance, attire and instant reactions.
The show details the cooking by the blokes, as a part-cooking, part-dating format.
Simone likes the look of Nick and vice versa. She tells him he looks like a cross between Prince William and Prince Harry.
“Well they’ve got different fathers,” says Nick.
Say what? Are we actually putting that allegation out there on a dating show? Interesting…
Next potential beau is “Italian stallion” Mark, 29, who works in real estate. This guy looks like a player, full of confidence and knowing what he wants in a woman.
“People might call it chauvanistic, I call it traditional,” he explains.
The soundtrack plays Smooth Operator.
Mark even sings, before he starts to caress her fingers. Yup.
The two click physically, but there are moments when his bravado puts doubts in Simone’s mind.
The narration also adds a little attitude, if not quite the same cheek as Come Dine with Me.
The final date is Drew, 36, a father of a nine year old boy. Being a parent puts Simone at ease. He looks like he can cook too. Of the three blokes, this date seems the most relaxed.
When the dates are all over, two men will receive a knock on their door with a (rejection) greeting card from Simone and the lucky boy will open his door to a beaming Simone.
Book-ending each date Feildel threw in teaser questions about Simone’s progress. Geez mate, would it have been hard to drop by their kitchens? Again, it reeks of being an after-thought…
I can only presume his thick French accent precluded him from being the series narrator too. Maybe they can get him to tango in next week’s episode?
The production shots here are pretty good, even if the format feels like My Kitchen Rules colliding with Shopping for Love. I was frustrated by the over-use of pop music which distracts from the key players. Note to all ob-docs producers: please don’t use music with vocals when people are speaking at us (The Block is guilty of this too). Pay someone to compose!
I gather from Feildel’s opening introduction that the format will stick to single females meeting three males. It might get more interesting should that premise get reversed, or even incorporates gay singles, but I suspect the target audience is predominantly female.
There are two dating formats on television right now, the long-running and well-produced Farmer Wants a Wife and FOX8’s relative-newcomer Dating in the Dark Australia. I don’t think either have much to fear from this new kid on the block.
Maybe Manu could host a new version of Perfect Match? But he would have to turn up every week for that.
Dinner Date airs 9:30pm Tuesdays on Seven.